Increase Resident Retention by Creating a Sense of Community


Value. It’s a term we struggle with as property managers and owners and because we all have a different idea of what factors play a part in resident satisfaction as they evaluate what they’re getting for the money. Based on a new analysis conducted by SatisFacts in conjunction with Ball State University, we now know that the number one factor in a resident’s perception of value is the “Sense of Community” they find on a day-to-day basis.

Increase Resident Retention by Building Connections

Sense of community begins with a resident’s connection with the office team. Think of your favorite restaurant, the one you frequent once a week or more. The servers greet you by name, they ask if you want your usual, they ask how your weekend getaway was that you mentioned last week, they ask if your child is excited for the upcoming school year. Yes, the food is good, but it’s the way the staff makes you feel that has the biggest draw. Especially when you bring along your friend or co-worker and they see how well-known and well-treated you are by the staff. “She must be a VIP,” they think to themselves, and then they make the comment aloud: “Wow, they really know you here.”

Apartment residents are no different. Yes, the community may be nice, but it’s the staff that makes the difference. People don’t leave places. They leave people. And most typically, they leave the people who are in charge. This means better resident retention is based on building better relationships with property management staff.

Three Ways to Cultivate a Sense of Community

While resident events can be a nice-to-have amenity, we all know there is a good percentage of our residents who couldn’t care less who their neighbors are, and the only reason they’d do a fly-by of the monthly resident event would be to load up a plate of food and carry it away to their home. The bigger win is focusing time and energy on the personal interactions between the residents and the staff. Here are some ways to do just that:

1. Make Sure They Know Your Name

Forget you’re even wearing a name tag. Re-introduce yourself. If you think they know your name, but you’re not sure, throw out a comment like, “Well, you know that any time you need anything, you can always call the office and ask for Jen. I’m always happy to help!” People like to feel they have a go-to contact.

2. Use the Resident’s Name, Especially in Front of their Guests

Everyone loves to feel like a VIP. Calling a resident by name in front of their friends or family achieves two things: letting them know you value them as an individual, and demonstrating to that guest that this is how you treat your residents in your community (and feel free to spread the good word!).

3. Follow-up and Follow-through with Maintenance and Service Requests

Don’t be that really nice, but totally flaky friend. If you say you’re going to do something for a resident, do it! It’s the cornerstone of exceptional customer service. Everyone can make promises; surprisingly few can actually keep them. Being dependable reinforces to the resident that you care enough about them to make sure they’re completely taken care of.

Creating a “Sense of Community” begins with the relationships you and your team form with your residents to help them feel like a member, not just a paying customer. And that’s the foundation for creating value and resident satisfaction each and every day.


Image source: iStockphoto


Senior Vice President of Education and Consulting, SatisFacts Research

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Jen Piccotti, Senior vice President of Education and Consulting at SatisFacts Research, has over a decade of experience in customer loyalty, quality assurance programs and process efficiency, and has worked in the apartment industry since 2000. She heads up special projects for SatisFacts, including satisfaction survey action planning, work-time analyses, special studies, quality assurance, process evaluations, and educational services. Jen holds a Master of Science – Quality Assurance degree from California State University, Dominguez Hills.

6 responses to “Increase Resident Retention by Creating a Sense of Community”

  1. Peter says:

    This is a great read!

    • Michael Cunningham says:


      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Jen always delivers great content.

      Michael Cunningham
      Managing Editor

  2. Wendy says:

    Perfect ways that every property team member, on any class property, can create a great community for their residents! Too bad too many team members have their heads stuck to a computer screen and wonder why residents are willing to move over a $20 rent increase. It’s all about customer service and your residents feeling “wanted” at your community. Thanks Jen!

  3. Pat Gleason says:

    Great article. I find it helpful to post a flyer in lobbies and common areas with the names and PHOTOS of key staff. We also include names/photos on resident retention collaterals. The hospitality industry does this well, it sends the message that we really do want to know you.

  4. I find this topic refreshing. In the government sector, I see many examples of good customer service. I also see examples of instances where the resident is seen as a bother, unfortunately. Residents who feel respected are better neighbors, though. And better neighbors make less troublesome residents, from what I see.

  5. premiere-concierge says:

    Thanks for sharing the information. It is a great article but there are also many companies avaialble in the market that also helps you in increasing resident retentions.
    Read the small story of one of the secretary who took help from one of the concierge company

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